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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Matt Mathers

Archie Battersbee: Timeline of battle over brain damaged 12-year-old’s life support

PA Media

The inquest into the death of Archie Battersbee, whose life support became the subject of a legal battle last year, is due to conclude today.

Archie’s case made headlines after his parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, launched ultimately unsuccessful legal bids to prevent doctors from switching off his ventilator.

He died shortly after his life support was withdrawn on 6 August last year.

Archie Battersbee had been in hospital for months but doctors said he was brain stem dead (PA)

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought he was brain-stem dead and said continued life-support treatment was not in his best interests.

Archie was first taken to hospital in April last year with a neck injury. He was found at unconscious at home by his mother, who said she thought he had taken part in some form of online challenge.

Here is a timeline of the case:

- April 7

Archie suffered an injury at his Essex home which left him brain-damaged. He was found unconscious and has been in intensive care ever since.

His mother believes the incident may have been linked to an online challenge.

- June 13

The High Court ruled doctors could legally switch off Archie’s life support, with a judge saying the boy had died at the end of May.

The court had been ordered to decide what was in Archie’s best interests as doctors wanted to stop treating the boy but had been met with resistance by the family.

- June 20

Archie’s family were given permission to appeal the High Court ruling.

Their barrister argued evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that Archie was dead but the decision had been made on a balance of probabilities.

A judge said the Court of Appeal should consider the standard of proof issue.

Archie’s parents fought to keep their son on life support (PA)

- June 29

The family won their hearing at the Court of Appeal, who sent the case back to the High Court for reconsideration.

- July 15

The High Court upheld its previous ruling, saying doctors could go ahead and turn off Archie’s life support.

The new judge said: “This court has to ask itself whether continuation of ventilation in this case is in Archie‘s best interests.

“It is with the most profound regret, but on the most compelling of evidence, that I am driven to conclude that it is not.”

- July 25

The Court of Appeal rejected the family’s bid to appeal the second High Court ruling.

Archie with his mother Hollie Dance (PA)

- July 28

The Supreme Court refused to grant Archie’s family a stay to halt hospital bosses from taking the boy off life support

His family asked for this as they wanted to make an application to the United Nations.

- July 29

Archie’s family asked the United Nations to look into their life support battle.

On the same day, the UN asked for the 12-year-old to remain on life support while it considers the case.

- July 31

The government asked the High Court to “urgently consider” the UN request to delay Archie’s removal from life support.

Archie had been unconscious for months (PA)

- August 1

Doctors were initially due to withdraw life support at 2pm.

But a High Court hearing took place on the same day to look at whether to keep Archie on life support while the UN considers the case, with the hospital agreeing to wait for the result.

– August 2

Archie’s parents are refused permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court.

Ms Dance said Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on August 3 at 11am unless the family have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am that day.

The trust will not begin removing life-support until all legal issues have been resolved.

– August 3

The European Court of Human Rights refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family say they intend to ask the High Court to allow the schoolboy to be moved to a hospice.

Archie’s coffin is brought into St Mary's Church, Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, ahead of his funeral (PA)

– August 4

Nearly four months after Archie suffered traumatic head injuries, his parents formally lodge High Court proceedings over the move to hospice care – something the hospital opposes. Archie’s care continues.

– August 5

Mrs Justice Theis rules it is not in Archie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.

Refusing permission to appeal, the Court of Appeal judges say Mrs Justice Theis’ ruling dealt “comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents” and said the proposed appeal had “no prospect of success”.

A bid to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the High Court ruling violated the European Convention on Human Rights, also fails.

Archie’s family is told his life support will be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday, campaign group Christian Concern says.

Ms Dance attends a vigil at Priory Park, Southend-on-Sea, in memory of her son (PA Wire)

- August 6

Archie’s life support is switched off and he passes away at 12.15pm, with his distraught mother breaking the news in front of the hospital.

- August 7

The inquest into Archie’s inquest begins.

Ms Dance said she thinks he may have been taking part in an online challenge, and he suffered brain damage.

Essex’s senior coroner Lincoln Brookes said at a preliminary inquest hearing in November last year, he had seen no evidence that Archie was taking part in any online blackout challenge but had been told that police found messages on the youngster’s phone reflecting “very low mood”.

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